Cleaning Process

Remove surface debris. Use a stiff bristled brush, and wipe off any loose dirt from the surface of the canvas covering.
  • Some items that may be stuck to the canvas surface include leaves, dust, dirt, bird droppings, and algae growths.
Spray the canvas with water. Gently hose the canvas covering to dampen the surface. Then, use a spray bottle or a cloth dipped in water to moisten the seams of the canvas, since the seams can accumulate and house a lot of dirt.
  • Saturating the canvas surface with water will help the cleaning agent adhere, and soak into the grimy nooks and crannies of the canvas.[6]
Make your cleaning solution. The cleaning solution should be mild and diluted with water. A mild detergent such as dishwashing soap or a detergent specific for washing fabrics by hand is a good option, but you could also use bleach. A good cleaning mixture ratio is about 1 cup of bleach to 5 gallons of warm water.[7]
  • If you are going to use a mild detergent, consider using about ¼ cup of detergent to per gallon of warm water.[8]
Clean the fabric. Use a stiff bristled brush to work the cleaning solution into the canvas fabric. You can move the brush in circles or scrub back and forth.
  • However, don’t apply a great amount of pressure while scrubbing; you could damage the canvas fabric.
  • Again, remember to focus on scrubbing the seams of the canvas, because that’s where a lot of filth collects.
Let the cleaning solution soak. Leave the soapy cleaning solution on the canvas fabric for a about 30-60 minutes. This will allow the cleaning solution to soak into the fabric and release the dirt and impurities.
Rinse the fabric. Rinse the fabric with clean water to remove the soapy solution. Hosing down the fabric will work just fine.
  • You may have to repeat this process a few times if your boat canvas is particularly dirty.
Air dry the canvas. Allow the canvas covering to dry naturally by the sun and wind outside. Your canvas covering should be completely dry with one full day sitting in the sun.
Consider retreating the fabric. You may want to consider applying a water proofing spray to the surface of the fabric. Some fabric treatments made especially for boats can even contain solutions to prevent wear and tear from sun rays. Simply follow the instructions on the fabric protectant spray bottle.
  • Normally, 2 thin coats of protectant spray are recommended for the best results. Allow the first coat to completely dry before adding on the second coat.[9]
  • If you are unsure about what kind of fabric treatment to use, consult a worker at your local boat shop.